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Nothing Phone (1) vs Pixel 6a: Battle of the new mid-range Androids

If you’re considering buying a new mid-range Android phone this summer, should you go for the Nothing Phone (1) or the Google Pixel 6a?

There are two new blockbuster Android phones on the way this summer, one of them from the creator of that software itself, Google, and another from a new manufacturer that’s looking to take on the world, Nothing.

However, which of these handsets – the Pixel 6a and the Phone (1) respectively – is the right one for you?

Given that we’ve not yet fully reviewed or even used either handset, we can’t yet deliver our final verdict on this battle. However, in this article we’re going to take a look at the design and specifications of each of them in order to take in our early impressions of these two tempting smartphones.

Design

In terms of design at least, the Nothing Phone (1) really stands out from the crowd. Although the actual chassis seems to owe something to the iPhone 13 as far as its design language is concerned, the addition of flashing LED lights marks it out as unique to look at and potentially useful too, as these can indicate incoming calls from specific contacts or notify to as to the level of charge your phone currently has. The handset has an IP53 rating against water and dust ingress, and it’s available in black or white.

Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The Pixel 6a’s design strongly resembles the Google Pixel 6, though perhaps that shouldn’t be all too surprising. This means that it is also fairly distinctive, with a two-tone design and a large camera bar across its back, plus it boasts a superior IP68 rating against water and dust. This makes it more resistant to water than the Nothing Phone 1, at least on paper.

The Pixel 6a colours in a line, Chalk, green and black
Google Pixel 6a

Design is always a subjective quality, and it’s likely that both of these handsome handsets will find some admirers.

Screen

The Nothing Phone (1) has a rather large 6.55-inch OLED display, and it’s packed with some very promising specifications, including HDR10+ support, 10-bit colour, which should ensure good colour representation, along with a 60-120Hz adaptive refresh rate for extra smooth and efficient scrolling.

Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

There are a few things that the Phone (1) has in common with the Pixel 6a here, including its 1080p resolution, and HDR support. However, it’s notably smaller (at 6.1-inches), and has Gorilla Glass 3 protection rather than the more recent Gorilla Glass 5 sported by the Phone (1). Some specifics about the Pixel 6a are still yet to be announced with regards to the screen, however, so it’s definitely too early for us to come down on one side or the other.

Camera

The camera could turn out to be the key battleground between these two phones, and yet, unfortunately, we’ve not yet been able to take snaps with either of them just yet.

The Nothing Phone (1) has a rear camera set-up consisting of two 50-megapixel sensors (wide and ultrawide), and while the Pixel 6a similarly has the wide and ultrawide lenses, the resolutions are different (being 12.2-megapixels and 12-megapixels in this case.) However, there’s far more to photography than just the megapixel count, and we have to say that our experiences with the cameras on Pixel phones has never been anything less than excellent, whether that be the top-of-the-range Pixel 6 Pro or the more affordable Pixel 5a.

We’re keenly waiting to see how the two handsets will perform on this key metric. While past history may smile kindly on the newest Pixel, the Nothing Phone is an entirely unknown quantity, and could end up being a real winner.

Performance

The Nothing Phone (1) runs on a Snapdragon 778G+ chipset, which is at the top of the mid-range from Qualcomm’s mobile silicon. That means you can’t expect flagship performance from it, as you can with the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, but we’d still expect a confident performance that can deal with most of the tasks it’s set to. It also packs in 5G connectivity, for the fastest mobile data speeds.

Google Tensor image
Google’s Tensor SoC

On the other hand, the Pixel 6a runs on Google’s own silicon, named Tensor. This chip (which also offers 5G) is the same one that we’ve previously witnessed in action on the Pixel 6 Pro flagship, so it really could be competitive against some of the most expensive Android handsets on the market. We’ve been impressed by the results it has pulled out of the bag in terms of image post-processing, and we certainly hope that this fine tradition continues on the Pixel 6a.

Battery

The battery capacities appear to be somewhat similar between the two devices, with the Nothing Phone (1)’s cell weighing in at 4500mAh and that of the Pixel 6a being 4410mAh. But does that mean we can expect similar performance? Not necessarily. For this step, we really need to put them through real-life testing to see how their endurance holds up, because it can depend on many different factors including screen quality and processor efficiency.

Price

Reading about the two handsets in the above article, you may be scratching your chin deciding which one of them deserves to be your next smartphone. If that’s the case, then you won’t be able to separate them based on price; both have the same price tag attached, costing £399 for the base model. That’s why we’re so keen to put both of them into action and see how they hold up in our reviews, since they could well find themselves competing to be named by Trusted Reviews as one of the best mid-range phones that you can buy.

Early impressions

Ultimately, it’s just too early for us to choose one of these phones over the other. While we might have certain expectations regarding some specs, like the camera and the performance, these really need to be evaluated through a mixture of standardised testing and real-world usage to find out which one is the better handset for you to buy. We’ll soon have conducted full reviews of both the Nothing Phone (1) and the Pixel 6a, so please stay tuned and wait to see what we think of both of them; this page will be updated with our findings.

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